Woodstock No More: Music Festivals in the Age of Technology

Have you been to a music festival in the last 5 years? Let me tell you, it’s not your parents’ Woodstock. Technology has impacted everything from crowd organization through social media, to mind-blowing shows with holograms (remember when Tupac showed up to Coachella?), and these additions have made large events like these exponentially better.


Sure, all the Woodstock-wannabes might disagree and say that the focus on the music is being taken away, but I don’t think that’s the case. Organizers around the world have jumped on the opportunity to use technology in a way that streamlines the experience to make sure you have a great time, and ultimately want to come back next year. It also makes their jobs a heck of a lot easier. They’ve found ways to add to the traditional format and experience, rather than change it.

One of the most common new uses of technology at festivals would be in the wristbands. Gone are the days where you’d walk in with a ticket, now ticket buyers receive a wristband in the mail weeks before with a chip attached to it. This wristband will be your best friend and means of entry to just about everything. Depending on the festival, it could even have the capacity to have money loaded onto it so you don’t have to bring your wallet inside – something that Lollapalooza introduced last year.

Another staple tech element is the festival’s official app. These apps let you create your own schedule based on what acts you want to see throughout the day, and will send you push notifications to make sure you don’t miss them. They also usually have detailed maps of the festival grounds (great for finding the washroom or the closest beer tent) and info about all the artists performing. I remember going to Osheaga in 2013 and thinking that their app was a lifesaver and it didn’t require the use of data to function – BONUS.

Ever tuned in to the Coachella live stream? That was one of my favourite procrastination tools in university. According to Eventbrite, during the 2014 music festival season there were approximately 5 million posts online from people who tuned into a festival but weren’t actually there. This doesn’t surprise me at all, however I still wouldn’t choose watching an online performance for free over seeing the real thing. Snapchat even jumped on the live stream bandwagon with their ‘Our Story’ feature, which at a given time allows Snapchatters in the vicinity to share their perspective on the event for the rest of us to have FOMO over.

In addition to all of this, there are a ton of apps that are geared toward making the music festival season easier for you. WaterIn, for example, will send you reminders to chug some H2O a few times a day to make sure you stay hydrated in the sun. The BC Tent Finder app makes it easy to navigate your way back to your tent at the end of the day – all you have to do is snap a photo and drop a pin to mark your tent’s location on a map. I highly recommend anyone checking out WayHome this year to give this one a download.

Have you seen any great uses of technology at a music festival? Tell me about them on Twitter.